There's no question the Most Serene Republic's second full-length is light years ahead of their first effort, Underwater Cinematographer. On Population, the they're more confident, their musicianship has improved immensely, and their complex songwriting has matured.
As on their last disc, the Toronto-based septet mess around with mood, timing and sounds in each song - it's just that on their new record they do it so much better. Vocals are often used as just another instrument, pushed so far back into the mix that you can't hear what they're saying.
The only problem is that this band plays some seriously epic, atmospheric rock. It's easy to get lost in the swelling guitars, the layer upon layer of reverb and the lush instrumentation. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you can stay focused and take everything in, but it's just as easy for Population to become another CD of background music.
The Most Serene Republic rock the Mod Club tonight (Thursday, October 25).